Sustainable Tourism at its Finest: Protect the Cinque Terre
With all the reading and research that goes into this blog (don’t laugh, we’re being serious!), it is rare that we come across something that immediately prompts us to start planning a trip complete with dates, travel arrangements, etc. We read magazines, books, websites, and blogs all touting truly amazing places around the globe so why is it that a certain website has lit a fire under us to travel to Italy in September 2010?
Surely it doesn’t hurt that we love Italy, its food, its beaches, its language, its style, and its scenary. This group, Protect the Cinque Terre, arranges for you, the tourist, to help the small village of Vernazza to preserve its historic landscape: rebuilding the stone walls that support terraced agriculture, cleaning trails used by tourists, and harvesting grapes or olives grown on the hillsides on the outskirts of town.
Before you say that sounds like too much work on vacation, consider what you will be gaining: a true appreciation of the history and beauty of this part of the world, meaningful relationships with the locals and other tourists who share your value in this type of experience, oh, and the opportunity to absolutely gorge yourself with unbelievable Italian food sometimes cooked by “Mama” herself!
In addition to the work piece, PCT arranges your lodging in an eco-friendly apartment in town, all your homemade meals, small historic guided tours of the town, and walking and train trips to nearby villages.
This program is practically the definition of socially conscious tourism – it includes embracing local culture, contributing to the local economy, steering clear of eco-unfriendly activities, becoming a temporary member of the community, and leaving the place in better shape than you found it.
We love that PCT was developed and is now implemented by a 6th generation Vernazzeso and his family and friends. The only problem we see with the program is that it’s only 3 days! But at least that gives us an opportunity to go to Florence while on our trip.
We’re planning our trip for September 2010 so we can do the grape harvesting. Let us know if you’ll be joining us!